2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - Cal at Oregon
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Oct. 6 at Oregon 43 … California 15
CFN Analysis: This was Oregon being Oregon. Cal played well early on and had the lead going into the second half, but no one makes adjustments better than the Duck coaching staff. Oregon just keeps on doing what it does, and eventually the defense breaks. It wasn't just the great running game, that rolled for 365 yards, it was the passing of Darron Thomas, who barely completed half his passes but made the throws needed to break the game open. De'Anthony Thomas was phenomenal, catching six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and Josh Huff connected big plays catching three passes for 54 yards. Of course, the story coming out of the game was the LaMichael James elbow injury. The Duck offense can keep on rolling without him, with Kenjon Barner proving he can pick up the slack, and now all the focus is on how fast the nation's best back can heal. No one's stopping this offense right now, with or without James, but the Ducks need him in mid-November for Stanford and USC.
Cal looked great early on with the offense moving the ball well, but the passing game didn't click when it needed to and three great drives ended in field goals instead of touchdowns, and it went bye-bye in the second half as Zach Maynard couldn't connect. He was under pressure time after time, but when he had his chances, he didn't put enough drive on his throws and missed on too many third down chances. He completed 20-of-41 passes for 218 yards and a score, and Keenan Allen was terrific catching nine passes for 170 yards and a score, but it wasn't nearly enough. No, the defense didn't hold up, but it needed the offense to not panic in the second half and it didn't happen.
(AP) EUGENE, Ore. -- Despite a gruesome-looking elbow injury, LaMichael James was smiling after Oregon's victory over California.
The nation's top rusher dislocated his right elbow early in the fourth quarter of the Ducks' 43-15 win on Thursday night. It appeared to contort as he crumbled to the ground.
However, not long after he was carted from the field, James was standing at the locker room door, his arm in a sling, to congratulate his teammates.
"It's not a season-ending injury and I'll be fine," he said. "I'm tough. I'm a warrior and I'm never going to quit on my team."
James said that X-rays showed the arm was not broken. But he would not speculate on whether he'll play next Saturday against No. 22 Arizona State.
"We're gonna wait and see," he said. "We have the best trainers in the country and I'm sure they are going to get on it ASAP and I'll be there four times a day so I can get on that field."
Before he went down, James ran for 239 yards and a touchdown for the Ducks (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12). True freshman De'Anthony Thomas caught a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another score.
Giorgio Tavecchio made three field goals -- including a career-best 54-yarder -- for Cal (3-2, 0-2), which led 15-14 at the half but couldn't sustain its momentum against the country's top scoring offense.
"They scored. We kicked field goals," said Golden Bears receiver Keenan Allen, who caught nine passes for 170 yards and a score.
James, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, has run for at least 200 yards in his last three games, something no Ducks player had done before. He went into the game with an average of 153 yards rushing per game, best in the nation. He had 166 by halftime against Cal.
The crowd at Autzen Stadium fell silent when James did not get up on the fourth-quarter scoring drive, but he waved to the crowd as he was driven off the field.
He said that he himself popped his elbow back into place while he was still on the field.
After proclaiming that he aimed to get by without pain medication, James was asked how he planned to deal with it.
"Talk to the media," he joked.
Cal took a 3-0 lead on Tavecchio's 27-yard field goal on the first series of the game, but James answered with a 53-yard dash for a score and the Ducks looked to be taking off. It was James' third touchdown run of 50 or more yards this season.
Tavecchio added another field goal, this time a 38-yarder, to make it 7-6. A rain storm moved in over Autzen and slowed play a bit, but Oregon extended its lead on Thomas' 17-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter.
Tavecchio's career-best 54-yard field goal cut it to 14-9.
Although it looked as though James might have been injured early in the second quarter when he was slow to get up from a hit and went to the sideline holding the back of his right thigh, he returned and had a 39-yard run, which put him over 4,000 for his career. He's the sixth player in conference history to reach that milestone.
After the Bears stopped Oregon on a fourth down on their own 41, quarterback Zach Maynard led an efficient march that was capped by his 12-yard touchdown pass to Allen that gave Cal a 15-14 lead.
Tavecchio attempted a 40-yard field goal before the end of the first half, but it was blocked.
Oregon quickly regained the lead after the half with Darron Thomas' 23-yard pass to De'Anthony Thomas. The Ducks extended it on Kenjon Barner's 68-yard touchdown run and Darron Thomas completed pass to De'Anthony Thomas for the 2-point conversion.
Darron Thomas hit De'Anthony Thomas again with a 21-yard touchdown before James was injured on the fourth-quarter drive that was capped by Darron Thomas' 3-yard scoring pass to Lavasier Tuinei.
Darron Thomas completed 13 of 25 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
Maynard finished 20 of 41 for 218 yards and a score.
Cal cornerback Marc Anthony was in street clothes after he appeared to injure his arm in the first half. The Bears would not confirm the injury.
Last season Oregon struggled against Cal last year in Berkeley, emerging with a 15-13 victory. The win featured the fewest points and yards (317) for the speedy Ducks last season. James was held to 91 yards rushing, which at that time was a season low, and Oregon had to look to its defense to keep the Bears at bay.
That game was also notable because a Cal defensive player was caught looking to the sideline after a play before abruptly collapsing to the ground with an "injury." Video of the flop went viral on the Internet.
There was widespread speculation that Cal faked the injury to slow down Oregon's high-speed spread offense. The suspicions were confirmed later in the season when defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi was suspended for a game after admitting he instructed the player to go down.
Both Cal and Oregon were coming off of byes. The Ducks beat Arizona 56-31 in their last outing, while the Bears came up short against Washington, 31-23, when the Huskies stopped the final drive on fourth down at the 2.
The hoopla surrounding the nationally televised Thursday night game was amplified by Oregon, which wore new "Fighting Ducks" jerseys for the game meant to harken back to the bright green and yellow uniforms of the past.
California (3-1) at Oregon (3-1) Oct. 6, 9:00, ESPN
Here's The Deal … The last time Oregon had a national spotlight, it got lapped by LSU in Arlington, Tex., 40-27. Since then, the Ducks have essentially gone underground to regroup, blowing out three consecutive opponents with its typical array of offensive fireworks. However, none of the victims was particularly noteworthy, leaving open the door of skepticism that the program is determined to slam shut as the season unfolds. A visit from Cal, which gave Oregon fits last Nov. 13, affords the Ducks an opportunity to reintroduce themselves to the swath of the country that chose to write them off a month ago.
While the Bears are buried in the Pac-12 North, especially after falling to Washington two weeks ago, 31-23, they're ceding nothing at this early stage of the season. Staying afloat in the division, though, will require an upset in Eugene on Thursday night, the kickoff of a wicked three-game stretch that'll also include upcoming visits from USC and Utah. How well Cal navigates October will determine the fate of the 2011 squad and possibly head coach Jeff Tedford, who has reached a plateau in Berkeley.
Why Cal Might Win: Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast believes he holds the blueprint for slowing down the high-octane Oregon attack. And why not? His 2010 edition kept the Ducks to a season-low 15 points and 317 yards by using different fronts, employing five defensive backs and disguising his blitzes. The coach has had extra time to perfect his scheme, while getting in the heads of the Oregon players. The Bears are No. 12 nationally against the run, allowing just 2.6 yards per carry. They'll once again flood the field with big, athletic defenders, like S Sean Cattouse and linebackers Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt. The offense, while not to be confused with the Ducks, has plenty of playmakers to challenge a transitioning Oregon D. Isi Sofele is a seasoned runner, and Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones form one of the Pac-12's premier receiving tandems.
Why Oregon Might Win: While the Bears did an amazing job against the Ducks a year ago, can it keep the genie from getting out of the bottle for a second straight game? The offense is up to its old tricks again, hanging up at least 56 points in three consecutive games. Not only has RB LaMichael James rushed for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games, but he's surrounded by able backups, such as Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas. Thomas, a heralded rookie, is the type of do-everything weapon who can get to the perimeter on the Cal defense. The better-known Thomas in Eugene, QB Darron, is one of the key differences for Oregon this fall. A more mature passer, he's thrown a dozen touchdown passes to just a single interception to give the offense even more potency. With the Bears linebackers giving so much attention to the running game, TE David Paulson could become Thomas' favorite target in the middle of the field this week.
What To Watch Out For: If Cal is going to put a scare into Oregon again, it'll need more than just a huge effort from its defense. The Bears are going to need something special out of QB Zach Maynard. The newcomer by way of the University of Buffalo has played well so far, throwing 10 touchdown passes and three interceptions. However, he must elevate his play this week in a game that's sure to have more points than a year ago. The Ducks secondary showed cracks in the Arizona game, allowing 398 yards and three touchdown passes, which Maynard must expose. Allen, Jones and TE Anthony Miller are too good as downfield receivers to not be properly utilized in this game.
What Will Happen: With ample time to make adjustments from last year's nailbiter versus the Bears, Chip Kelly and the Oregon staff will create a gameplan that unlocks the potential of the offense. The streak of games with at least 56 points will end, but the Ducks will generate enough big plays to win for the fourth consecutive game. While James will rush for more than 100 yards, including one long explosion for the end zone, Thomas will earn MVP honors on Thursday night. The junior will continue his maturation process as the starting quarterback with three touchdown passes against a beatable Cal secondary.
CFN Prediction: Oregon 48 … Cal 21
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Oregon -24 O/U: 54.5
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